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07/25/10 5:51 PM ET

A's get shot at AL West-leading Rangers

It's easy for Athletics manager Bob Geren to say every series is a critical one, but when his club travels to meet the American League West leaders for a late-July set, he admitted there's a bit of extra emphasis.

"It's just another series, but at this stage, every series is a big series," Geren said. "We'll see them again at home soon, so those are six big games right there."

The Rangers, who will play host to the A's on Tuesday, exited Sunday with a seven-game lead in the American League West. The two teams will meet for two three-game sets between Tuesday and the first week of August. Oakland rests a half-game back of the second-place Angels, who lost three of four to the Rangers over the weekend.

The A's -- who have won nine of their last 11 games, including a 6-4 win against the White Sox on Sunday -- have made the playoffs five times in the past 11 years, with AL West titles in 2000, '02, '03 and '06.

They also won the AL Wild Card in 2001. The Rangers, meanwhile, have won the division just three times in club history.

Cliff Lee, fresh off his first win with the Rangers, is 4-2 with a 2.61 career ERA against the A's. But many Oakland hitters have had success against the former Cy Young Award winner. Rajai Davis, Gabe Gross, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Landon Powell, Adam Rosales and Kurt Suzuki all are hitting .333 or better against the left-hander.

On the other side, A's starter Gio Gonzalez, 3-1 in his last four starts, will look to make amends for struggles in his start against the Rangers earlier this year, in which he allowed four runs in four frames on May 12. His 95 strikeouts lead the club, but his 56 walks is the second-highest total in the American League.

Texas lost four straight games going into the All-Star break, but it has come out of the intermission on fire. The Rangers are 8-3 in the second half, and only five of those wins have necessitated a save situation. Closer Neftali Feliz has all of those saves, and he's successfully converted 28 of his first 30 save chances this season.

Rangers: Crucial stretch vs. West
Starting with their weekend series against the Angels -- a series Texas took 3-1 -- the Rangers are playing a stretch of 16 straight vs. the AL West. Thirty-six of the Rangers' final 67 games coming against division foes. Texas is 17-8 against division rivals this season and went 3-3 against Oakland before the All-Star break.

Athletics: Bailey should be back
After not pitching for a week because of an upper back strain, the Athletics expect reliever Andrew Bailey to be available Tuesday. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 1.56 ERA with 20 saves this year. He's allowed just one run in his last ten outings (11 1/3 innings). ... Oakland is playing through a 15-game stretch that includes 12 against first-place teams.

Brett Anderson pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday and could be on track for a return to the big-league rotation. Anderson, who struck out nine batters, has been sidelined with an inflamed elbow.

Worth noting
The A's extended their winning streak in day games to six on Sunday and have not lost an afternoon game since June 23. Unfortunately for Oakland, all three games in the series against the Rangers are night games. ... Davis missed his third straight game with a strained left hamstring, but the A's have a day off on Monday. ... The "Moneyball" movie -- based on the 2003 bestseller by Michael Lewis -- begins filming Monday at the Coliseum. ... Saturday's Rangers victory was just the ninth 1-0 game in the 17-year history of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.